Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra test: a finally successful model

Designed to be the king of mobile photography, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has armed itself accordingly. The smartphone thus joins the bench of models with 200 megapixel sensors, occupied until then by Motorola and Xiaomi. A module that we have analyzed with precision and which has brought us some satisfaction. The dedicated article, concocted by our Photo department, awaits you below:

The rest of the camera gear is just as high-end. As usual, there is a 12 Mpx ultra-wide-angle module, a 10 Mpx x3 telephoto lens, as well as a 10 Mpx x10 telephoto lens as well. The combination is ultimately similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. All that remains is to discover the results brought by a logically improved software processing.

Main module: 200 Mpx, eq. 23mm, f/1.7

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/50 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.7, ISO 60, 1/180 s)

By switching to a resolution of 200 Mpx, the pixel binding applied to images is a bit different compared to 2022. By default, the S23 Ultra delivers 12MP shots, but with a binning by 16 (and not by 4 or 9 as we have already seen). It appears that these are a little less qualitative than those in 12 Mpx captured by the S22 Ultra. We discover them less detailed, more saturated (while Samsung had partly corrected this problem) and benefiting from a colorimetry less pleasing to the eye, at least on the light tones. On the other hand, it is on the periphery of the image that this new flagship stands out.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.8, ISO 50, 1 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.7, ISO 1600, 1/17 s)

Fortunately, the situation is somewhat reversed at night. The image is better exposed, loses that warm tone that the S22 Ultra unfortunately suffered from, and got rid of the microcontrast enhancement that was strongly present last year. The image looks a little duller, but reflects the actual scene better. The sharpness is obviously better, even if the software processing smoothes the photo, however in reasonable proportions.

50MP mode

The appearance of 200 Mpx on this model also allows Samsung to offer a 50 Mpx mode. By day, the rendering is excellent and the level of detail is much higher than what we are used to seeing from the competition. Above all, the saturation present in 12 Mpx is not in the game. At night, it’s a little more disappointing with an image that lacks sharpness and suffers from artefacts, even if we have to recognize once again that the exposure is correct and does not tend towards orange. If you had to choose, we would advise you to capture all your images in 50 Mpx rather than 12.5 Mpx, especially during the day.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (50 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.7, ISO 1250, 1/14 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (50 Mpx, eq. 23 mm, f/1.7, ISO 20, 1/50 s)

Ultra wide-angle module: 12 Mpx, eq. 13mm, f/2.2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 80, 1/100 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 80, 1/100 s)

Strangely enough, the ultra-wide-angle module underperforms a bit compared to its predecessor. It displays a lower sharpness, as well as more pronounced smoothing and disappointing exposure management. No doubt Samsung will fix this in future updates, but as it stands, it’s pretty disappointing. Again, the main areas for daytime improvement seem to be on the periphery, like the main module.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12 MP, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/16 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12 MP, eq. 13 mm, f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/14 s)

Ditto with the ultra wide-angle at night. The tone of the image is then less warm, but once again the details are completely crushed. Samsung’s choice is quite strange this year, especially since the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra share the same optics. An equivalent result was logically expected.

3x telephoto module: 10 Mpx, eq. 70mm, f/2.4

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 70 mm, f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/100 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 70 mm, f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/112 s)

Regarding the x3 telephoto lens, the situation does not really change. The image is essentially the same as last year, except for one detail: the color. As with the main day module, the smartphone offers a very saturated rendering, far from the cliché of the S22 Ultra which was more flattering. In fact, this excessive coloring tends to hide certain details, in particular at the level of the end of the card or the faces.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 70 mm, f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/25 s)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (10 MP, eq. 70 mm, f/2.4, ISO 3200, 1/25 s)

At night, it’s quite different. If the shot remains just as unusable as before, we notice Samsung’s progress on night images with the telephoto lens. The colorimetry is a little duller, but the shot is a little more detailed. The presence of artifacts is less.

10x telephoto module: 10 Mpx, eq. 230mm, f/4.9

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 70 mm, f/2.4, ISO 2500, 1/30 s)
Samsung Galaxy X23 Ultra (10 Mpx, eq. 230 mm, f/4.9, ISO 125, 1/50 s)

By day, the x10 telephoto lens does quite well despite too much saturation. The module will also be used more for fun with the Space Zoom x100 function, but it’s still good to take. At night, on the other hand, the smartphone switches to the x3 telephoto lens (evidenced by the Exif). In fact, the picture proposed is far from being usable since it is all scrambled.

Front module, portrait and video mode

Without us understanding why, Samsung is lowering the definition of its front module this year. It goes from 40 to 12 Mpx. A funny turnaround which, fortunately, does not affect the quality of the selfies delivered. Well detailed, correctly exposed and not too saturated, the shots will be able to give thanks to your face.

The portrait mode is just as convincing as in previous years with near-perfect clipping and, above all, background blur that isn’t too pronounced. The latter is also adjustable to add more or less effect to your selfie.

In terms of video, there are few changes compared to 2022. You can film at most in 8K at 24 fps or, this is new, at 30 fps. Slow-motion video (980 fps) goes to Full HD instead of HD on previous generations. It is always appreciated.

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